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11. Fish Disease Symptoms

One caution about diagnosing fish diseases. Even with a microscopic examination fish diseases are not easy to diagnose. Most hobbyists have only what their eyes tell them to go on as to what any fish disease is. This means that diagnosis of any fish disease is simply a “best guess”. And these “best guesses” are frequently wrong. So keep this in mind in ALL the following symptom articles.

Unfortunately, diseases of fish do not come with signs saying things like “I have hexamita”. Therefore one must look at the symptoms. And one symptom can have several different “causes”. This is known as “multifactorial aetiology” by scientists. These symptoms are oftentimes termed “syndromes”. Each of these sections looks at the most likely candidates for any given symptom:

11.1. Hole-in-the-head Syndrome

11.2. Stringy White Poop

11.3. Malawi Bloat

11.4. Dropsy

11.5. Hollow Belly

11.6. Swim Bladder Disease

11.7. Shimmying

Tropheops Red Cheek Chizumulu
Tropheops Red Cheek Chizumulu

11.8. Twirling

11.9. Spinal Deformities

11.10. White Skin Blotches

11.11. Red Skin Blotches

11.12. Neon Tetra Disease

11.13. Slime Coat Disease

11.14. Scaly Skin

11.15. Fish Not Eating

11.16. Aggression

11.17. Black Death

11.18. Black Head Syndrome

11.19. Gas Bubble Disease

Note that there is one “symptom” which isn’t a “symptom”. Fish very commonly “flash” and “scratch” against the substrate and rocks. This is especially common after a water change. Unless they are doing this 100% of the time it probably is just an ich they had to scratch. It is nothing serious. If it is constant and really bad it can indicate chlorine poisoning, organics in the water, ick or flukes.

Sciaenochromis fryeri OB
Sciaenochromis fryeri OB

In addition here are some general articles which will be useful when treating any fish disease:

12.1. Basics of Treatment

12.2. Various Treatments Summarized

12.3. Quarantine Tanks

12.4. Ineffective Medications

12.5. Fish Don’t Drink

12.6. Sterilization

12.7. Making Medicated Food

12.8. Euthanizing a Fish

12.9. Avoiding Fish Diseases

12.10. The “Shotgun” Approach

Tropheus moorii cf. Ikola
Tropheus moorii cf. Ikola

These articles in turn are in addition to all the articles on specific diseases:

10.1. Diseases in General

10.2. External Protozoans

10.2.2. Ich

10.2.3. Velvet

10.2.4. Epistylis

10.2.5. Chilodonella and Costia

10.2.6. Tetrahymena

10.2.7. Cryptobia

Synodontis flavitaeniatus
Synodontis flavitaeniatus

10.3. Bacterial Diseases

10.3.1. Skin Ulcers

10.3.2. Mouth Rot

10.3.3. Duck Lips

10.3.4. Fin Rot

10.3.5. Saddleback

10.3.6. Red Blotches

Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi
Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi

10.3.7. White Eyes

10.3.8. Pop Eyes

10.3.9. Red Gills

10.4. Tuberculosis (Fish TB)

10.5. Hexamita

10.6. Flukes

10.7. Fish Saprolegnia or “Fungus”

Synodontis eupterus Featherfin Squeeker Catfish
Synodontis eupterus Featherfin Squeaker Catfish

10.8. Lymphocystis

10.9. Anchor Worms

10.10. Black Spot

10.11. Tapeworms

10.12. Nematodes

10.12.1. Camallanus

10.12.2. Capillaria

10.13. Pests in the Aquarium

10.14. Fish Lice

10.15. Dwarf Gourami Disease

10.16. Graphite Disease in Bettas

Pseudeotropheus perspicax Puulu Red Top
Pseudeotropheus perspicax Puulu Red Top

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Translated in dutch by : Joost Abrahams